I have a theory. I’d like to test it…
First, only for the purposes of this discussion, let’s classify technology groups into two types:
- An “IT organization” builds and maintains applications and infrastructure for its “internal” customers. For example, they may deliver sales force automation for Sales, or HR systems for the HR group. They may also build some applications for “external” parties, like an ecommerce platform for customers or a procurement system for suppliers.
- An “Engineering” organization that is building something the customer is buying, like software, or a product that distributes information. They may also have a back office IT organization supporting them.
Now, for the theory related to architecture’s role. Assuming a centralized group that is looking for technology leverage opportunities (e.g. standardization, consolidation, innovation) across the organization:
- The internal IT organization would be well served with an enterprise architecture organization that acts as a primary liaison its internal customer. This group, as the primary liaison, can most effectively develop strategy, manage demand, and ensure the appropriate investment decisions are made.
- The Engineering organization would be better served with an architecture organization that sits behind other groups, groups that are more aligned with customers, products or business lines. The architecture group would act as an advisor to the heads of those areas, who should be focused primarily on the needs of their business area.
I could go on, but I’d love some initial reactions first…